Disney World park tickets are probably the most important part of your Disney vacation budget because without them, you won’t be visiting any parks! However, this is part of the planning process that often gets overlooked because, well, buying tickets…..how hard can that be?
How hard indeed?
It’s Disney, so that means there will be choices…lots of choices….and while those choices can help you possibly save some money (or at least add to the enjoyment/value of your trip), those choices can also be confusing to sort through.
So with that in mind, I’m going to take the next couple week’s posts to chat a bit about Disney World tickets, how to (possibly) get discount Disney tickets, and where to never ever buy your tickets.
Today, let’s talk just about what’s available. Because yes, you have choices.
Ticket Option #1: Base Ticket
The simplest ticket option is the Base Ticket, which provides you access to one park per day. You purchase this ticket for the number of days you will need, keeping in mind that the more days you “play” the less expensive per day your ticket is. Disney rewards those who plan to stay at least 4 days. With this ticket, you do not have the ability to “park hop” (visit more than one park per day), although you also don’t need to purchase tickets for a specific park either: you can go to Magic Kingdom every day if you want…and you really don’t need to decide until just before you walk through those turnstiles. Just be advised that once you do, that’s your park for the day. If you leave you may return…but only to that park.
Current prices for a Base Ticket start at $82 for one day for an adult (ages 10+) and $74 for a child (ages 3-9). A 7 day Base Ticket will cost $274 for adults and $224 for children. This ticket expires 14 days after it is activated.
Ticket Option #2: Park Hopper
This add-on to your ticket allows you the option to park hop: that is, visit as many parks as you would like in one day. There is no limit…you can visit all 4 in one day if you like (and if you had the stamina). It is important to realize however, that the Park Hopper option applies only to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom…in other words, the “major parks”. If you want to visit water parks, that is something additional.
As with the Base Ticket, this option is priced for the number of days you will need, and again, is less expensive per day, the longer you stay.
Current prices to add the Park Hopper option start at $54 for one day but goes down to just $7.71 per day for a 7 day ticket. This ticket expires 14 days after it is activated.
Ticket Option #3: Water Parks Fun and More
This is also an add-on option to your tickets, and allows you to visit the Disney “minor parks” such as Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Disney Quest, and Wide World of Sports. The Water Parks Fun and More visits are in addition to the number of days of your Base or Park Hopping ticket. The number of Water Park Fun and More visits you receive is determined by the length of your ticket, and you do not have to visit any of the major parks on a day when you use the WPF&M option. However, you also do not have the ability to “park hop” with this option: if you start at Blizzard Beach and then decide to go to Typhoon Lagoon on the same day…that will use 2 of your visits.
Current prices to add the Water Parks Fun and More option start at $54 for one day but goes down to just $7.71 per day for a 7 day ticket. This ticket expires 14 days after it is activated
Ticket Option #4: No Expiration
This is another add-on option that allows any un-used days to be available for future use. They do not expire until used. Having tickets that do not expire can be a cost-saver if you plan another visit to Walt Disney World in the future. It is important, if you are considering this add-on because of future trips, to compare the cost of this to that of an Annual Pass. Sometimes an Annual Pass may be a better choice (more on that shortly).
Current prices for the No Expiration option start at $11 on a 2 Day ticket but can cost as much as $20.29 per day for a 7 day ticket.
Choosing the Right Ticket, Upgrading, or Adding Days
So these are the basic options for Disney park tickets. As you can see, you have the ability to pretty much customize your ticket purchase using any…or all…of the options, to create the ticket that is best for your family. So when deciding which ticket to get, you will think about:
- How many days you will be there. Think about your arrival and departure days: will you have enough time those days to enjoy time at the parks?
- Do you want the ability to Park Hop? There is no right or wrong answer to this. At certain times of the year, having this flexibility is really helpful. But if you expect to just stay in one park for the day, this may not be something you need.
- Decide if you will really need or use the Water Parks Fun and More option. If you are visiting during the winter months, you may not get your money’s worth from this.
- Think about if you want to add some extra days and purchase the No Expiration option.
- Then add whatever options you think you will want/need to your base ticket.
One thing to think about, is that you have the option to upgrade or add options to your tickets if you choose to do so, as long as you do it within the 14 day window after the first use, and you do it while still at Disney World. So if you start with a Base ticket, and decide that you want to upgrade to an Annual Pass, or add the Park Hopper or No Expiration option, you can do so. There may be some restrictions to this, as Disney ticket policies do change, so always check at Guest Relations, or a Disney hotel concierge for the latest policies.
Other Ticket Choices: Annual Pass/Premium Annual Pass and Florida Resident
For those who expect to visit multiple times in a year, or at least more than a week, it’s usually a good idea to at least compare the cost of the ticket you would normally purchase, with the cost of an Annual Pass or Premium Annual Pass. An Annual Pass provides you with unlimited Park Hopper admission to the 4 Main Parks for 12 months with no blackout dates. A Premium Annual Pass provides you all of the above, plus unlimited admission to Disney Quest, Disney’s water parks, and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
You will want your calculator for this, because with all of the Magic Your Way Options…including the possibility of just adding days to the ticket you want to buy and purchasing the No Expiration Option….you won’t really know what is the best option for you until you do the math.
The thing is, you will need to factor in several other things when making this decision, beyond just the cost, because Annual Passholders typically receive a number of benefits: free parking (huge if you usually stay off site), as well as discounts on a number of shopping, dining and recreational activities. And that doesn’t take into account the periodic room discounts that Disney offers to Annual Passholders. Many people find that what they save on a room on one of these promotions pretty much pays for the AP. For many people, especially those who plan longer visits, or multiple visits in a year, buying an Annual Pass can end up being a huge savings.
As for those of you who are Florida residents, you have several options as well, that will allow you to choose the ticket that is best for how often you are likely to visit the parks. Ranging for a special Florida Annual Pass, to savings on Single Day, Multiple Day, and Water Park tickets, Disney offers choices for Florida residents as well. Learn more about Florida Resident tickets here.
Choices, choices Disney gives you lots of choices on tickets. Now that you know what they all are, next week we’ll talk about where to buy them…and perhaps more importantly, where NOT to buy them.